May 31, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista is greeted by teammates in the Jays dugout after scoring in the first inning against Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
In early June, nothing short of the playoffs would’ve been considered an acceptable finish for the Toronto Blue Jays. After all, they were the hottest team in baseball and it was difficult to imagine them finishing anywhere else.
Fast-forward to the present and things have changed significantly for the Jays. They no longer hold first place in the American League East – the Baltimore Orioles now hold that position and are quickly running away with it – while their tenuous grip on the final Wild Card spot in the American League was finally broken earlier this week.
Toronto now sit 7.5 games behind Baltimore and three games behind the Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers, who share the final Wild Card sport. In other words, the playoffs are gradually slipping away from the Jays once again.
The Jays haven’t made the playoffs since that magical season in 1993 where they won it all for the second year in a row. That’s 21 years of pathetic, playoff-free baseball for Jays fans to swallow. It sucks – it really sucks. There was a moment when the Jays were legitimate contenders this season, but injuries and a lack of decisiveness from management let this moment to escape them.
Shame on you, Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston. You’ve wasted another summer of mine.
Assuming the Jays can’t escape their current downward spiral, this forces us to rethink the question: what would be a good finish for them at this point in the season?
A few answers seem obvious.
Jul 5, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) leaves the field after injuring himself at first base during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
First, it would be nice to see everyone return to the lineup healthy. Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Brandon Morrow have all missed considerable time this season to injuries. (Any takers on wanting to see Maicer Izturis back?) Their returns may not be enough to help the Jays reach the playoffs, but that’s a different issue. It would be nice to see former all-star Steve Delabar figure things out in the minors and return to the big club, too.
Besides this, it would be nice to see young players like Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison, Ryan Goins (who was returned to the Buffalo Bisons earlier this week) and Aaron Sanchez continue developing in the right direction. All of these players are (potentially) big pieces of the team’s future so it’s important that they’re given the right opportunities to improve and show-off their respective stuff. I’m particularly excited about Stroman, who has future ace written all over him, while Hutchison would be a solid No. 2 or 3 guy in the starting rotation if he can ever find some consistency in his game.
Jul 29, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (54) reacts after walking off the mound during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
In the same sense, it would be nice to see veteran players like Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Encarnacion, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey end things on the right note. Every one of these guys is all-star material (in the past or at present) so there’s no reason why they can’t put up good individual numbers to finish the season.
As I said, all of these things would be nice to see, but what I really want to see is the team finish above .500 this season. The Jays were supposed to walk into the playoffs last season, but that never happened as they finished a miserable 74-88. They haven’t finished above .500 since 2010 (85-77) but find themselves in position right now (63-59) to pull off this small victory. It would be nice to see actually happen.
What are your thoughts? What would be a good finish to the season for the Jays? Is it too early to even talk about this?
Let us know in the comments section below.